How Atlassian’s cloud products help Canva empower and scale
As Canva scaled from square one to over 1,000 employees and 40 million users, the team behind this rapidly growing design platform was finding it difficult to maintain visibility across workflows and keep up with demand. By centralizing onto one Atlassian cloud platform, Canva now has a robust, secure development and ITSM solution that has helped them increase collaboration and transparency, process 5,000 tickets per year with ease, and empower people around the world to bring their designs to life.
Canva, the globe’s fastest growing design platform, is on a mission to empower the world to design. The company has grown from launch in 2013 to more than 1,000 employees in 2020, with more than 40 million people now using Canva worldwide.
Such exponential growth means Canva has had to rapidly scale their internal processes and procedures to keep up with demand. Atlassian’s cloud products – particularly Jira Software and Jira Service Management – are helping them navigate that formidable challenge.
From very early on, Canva deployed cloud solutions as a way to track tasks and workflows across Engineering teams. As the business continued to grow, the need for visibility across workflows grew too. The open and collaborative functionality of Jira brought all of Canva’s work to one platform for everyone to see; Atlassian’s product architecture has allowed different teams within the business to adapt the processes to their needs, or, as Internal Infrastructure guru Jeff Lai puts it, “Jira is like a Swiss Army knife for us.” Through it, Canva is powering their internal recruitment workflow, inventory management, and internal service requests.
“Work becomes a lot more visible when it’s all in one place. It makes collaboration a whole lot easier and facilitates that transparency,” says Jeff, who spun up an internal service desk after seeing his colleague being bombarded nonstop with Slack messages. “We’re up to ticket number 5,000 now, a year later. Can you imagine what it would have been like if all of those were individual Slack messages and emails? I’m really proud of how open we are to change at Canva, and how we can move things along.”
Jira is like a Swiss army knife for us.”
A fully fledged ITSM solution
Jeff’s team uses Jira Software and Confluence along with Jira Service Management for their ITSM solution – Confluence is used for policy documentation and onboarding new staff, and Jira Software for internal goal-setting. Jira Service Management is used for self-directed incident reporting, and by HR to track payroll discussions and updates. “Who can view HR information is heavily controlled, and there’s a high level of security measures in place too,” says Jeff. “It’s only because of those strict features that we felt comfortable putting this kind of information in Jira Service Management.”
Atlassian Access gives new employees permission to view a restricted set of systems and documents a few days before they start, and Access’ SSO and forced SAML ensure Canva’s security remains intact while providing external system access for contractors. The company uses external identity provider Okta, which pushes all of the data around users and groupings into Access. Jeff explains, “They aren’t able to see anything but the documents we send them, because access is restricted through user group access mapping. Everyone across the organization also has access to the edit history, so that’s another layer of security to make sure no one is doing anything dodgy to the documents!”
Having Jira Software and the Jira Service Management setup gives me the confidence that I can forward a query to someone and it’ll be picked up and dealt with.”
Software Engineer Andrew Toolan and his team are using two-week sprints in Jira Software to manage their backlog. “Being able to use that sprint board feature, both for individual team members and also for a high-level overview into what the team is working on, is invaluable,” he says. Recent global events related to COVID-19 have amplified the effectiveness of Atlassian’s cloud products as a fully fledged ITSM solution. Workflows across the organization have more visibility with Jira Software, increasing team productivity in a remote environment as more distributed workers are added to the mix every month. “The agility of the teams across Canva has increased because of Jira, especially as we’re scaling up,” explains Jeff. Andrew adds: “Having Jira Software and the Jira Service Management setup gives me the confidence that I can forward a query to someone and it’ll be picked up and dealt with. It’s essential to be able to facilitate those things when we’re upscaling, especially when having personal relationships with everyone is not really possible.”
“We’ve really seen the value of being able to funnel requests into a central location, from both recording it to see trends and to streamline the workflow. It’s been a really positive cultural shift,” says Jeff. Andrew adds, “Even just Jira itself, I’ve seen people use it to transfer tickets. It’s great to be able to flick an incident issue from one team to another.”
Automation saves the day
Jeff estimates his team alone is saving over 150 hours each month through Jira automation. Andrew’s Observability team also uses the automation available in Jira Service Management Premium to simplify incident and change management processes. “It’s saving us a significant amount of time,” he says. “Once an incident ticket is closed, it’ll run an incident report and create action items that are tracked. Once you create one, that sets the mandate and alerts people to complete tasks as well. If we didn’t have that automation set up, it would have all been a manual process.”
That level of automation and process will support Canva as they continue to grow. Andrew adds, “Having a structured approach to our workflows with products like Jira has really helped streamline the way we work.”
Jira Service Management has allowed us to centralize our information into one point, making it easy to perform queries or searches, or even simply run reports.”
One source of truth
Canva has a modern approach to DevOps: Their developers capture feedback directly from customers through Jira Service Management, which has been purpose-built to optimize incident and change management workflows to help Development and Operations collaborate more effectively. Developers own the code they write, from running it through production to maintaining and patching it if needed. “Jira Service Management has allowed us to centralize our information into one point, making it easy to perform queries or searches, or even simply run reports,” says Andrew.
With Jira Software functioning as a single source of truth for Canva, the unlimited storage in Jira Software Premium gives “breathing room,” Jeff says. “I don’t have to worry that my whole Jira instance is going to fall over because someone attached a backup file.”
Andrew’s team runs their production incidents through Jira Service Management, which they’ve also integrated with Slack through a separate application. This ability to connect multiple systems and communication tools is vital for team connectedness and accountability, and ensuring that issues are addressed in a timely manner.
Workflow and visibility benefits aside, one of Canva’s biggest wins has been the uptake of Jira Software by non-technical teams across the company. Atlassian’s tools make complex things simple for everyone. Because of the power of Jira Software, Jeff says it can take a little time for teams to make sure they’re using it to its fullest potential, but it’s an investment well worth it. “We’re lucky enough to have champions in the non-technical teams who are using it and really liking it.”
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